Women United, FemCity conference takeaways, new Fearless Focus event
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Good morning and happy Monday! This week’s newsletter may resemble an overstuffed can of sardines, but we can practically guarantee that there’s news you can use somewhere below.

Here’s what we’ve got:

One last thing, if you haven’t already shared with us a time that you were fearless, please do so! We’d love to share as many stories as we can.

Have a great week!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

United Way of Central Iowa’s Women United chapter celebrates 20-year anniversary
Members of United Way of Central Iowa's Women United program. Contributed photo.
If you had told Dr. Andy McGuire in 2002 that in 20 years, the United Way of Central Iowa’s Women United program would raise more than $26 million toward early childhood education, it’s safe to say she wouldn’t have believed you.

"We had no idea this thing would take off like it did. We thought we’d maybe get 20, 25 people [on board]. We were so excited when we got to 40 people," McGuire said. "It was pretty amazing that a bunch of women got together at a time when women weren’t quite what women are now, and thought we could do this, and did."

The group, which was then called United Way of Central Iowa’s Women’s Leadership Connection, began when former United Way CEO Martha Willits and former education director Maureen Tiffany gathered a group of women to discuss starting a philanthropic effort, where they chose to make early childhood education their primary focus.

They recognized that having early access to quality, educational child care supported their brain development, which then in turn positively affected the rest of their life’s trajectory.  

At the time, child care was seen as "a mom’s issue," not an economic one. There wasn’t a lot of other action surrounding early childhood education in the community, McGuire said. "There were certainly child care centers trying to do it right, but I remember the legislature just kind of poo-pooed us for years."

Through fundraising, advocacy, volunteering and networking, Women United members have worked to raise awareness in the community about the importance of early childhood education.

Women United Chair Christine Bruner has been a part of the group for nine years. She said progress has definitely been made on the issue, particularly around the heightened sense of awareness, but there is more work yet to be done.  

Currently, United Way of Central Iowa’s Women United program has about 500 members, with 25 in active committee roles, Women United Director Jaclyn Wulfekuhle said. Each year, they collectively give roughly $1.5 million.

Since 2002, Women United has put more than $26 million toward efforts in the early childhood education area, affecting more than 15,000 students in Polk, Dallas and Warren counties.

Among Women United’s accomplishments are:
  • Helping 17 child care centers and 200 in-home providers achieve better quality ratings by giving them funds to improve their operations. Dollars can go to anything from supporting director salaries to purchasing quality learning materials. All of the centers they help fund have a majority of their families receiving child care assistance.
  • Helping fund the T.E.A.C.H. and WAGE$ programs, which provide access to discounted education and salary supplements to child care workers based on their level of education.
  • Providing 4,000 books and spending quality time reading to preschoolers every year through the Book Buddy program.
  • Putting funding toward the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children’s  ECQuIP program, which consists of a six-person team that supports early childhood programs with things like DHS paperwork, training and mental health.  
  • Igniting a powerful and passionate group of women that want to make a difference in the community.

The Women United program in Central Iowa is consistently recognized as a top-performing chapter across all United Ways, Wulfekuhle said.

Share your thoughts with the Business Record: Inclusion in Iowa’s workplaces
The Business Record is seeking to compile Iowans’ perspectives as it relates to businesses’ diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts. This survey is anonymous; however, we will be publishing select comments and results in future Business Record coverage. While polling is not scientific, we believe the results will provide a sense of current opinions and experiences with belonging in Iowa’s workplaces. Questions are specific to the business environment, but we welcome answers related to community-based initiatives and local government.

The survey will remain open through Friday, Sept. 23, at 11:59 p.m. There are multiple-choice questions and short-answer questions where you can leave comments when you feel it's appropriate. Many of the questions are not required so that you can answer as many questions as apply to your experiences. If you answer all the questions, we estimate it would take no more than 15 minutes of your time.

Thank you for taking time to share your perspectives. If you have any questions, reach out to:  

- Emily Barske, Business Record editor

Left: Des Moines teenager Pieper Lewis. Center: Dentons Davis Brown HR Pro of the Year Monica Friedman. Right: Gov. Kim Reynolds.
In the headlines
  • Des Moines teenager Pieper Lewis, who killed her alleged rapist in 2020, will not go to prison. Polk County District Judge David M. Porter ordered Lewis five years’ probation and a deferred judgment. She also must serve 1,200 of community service, stay at the Fresh Start Women’s Center, and provide $150,000 in restitution for the death of Zachary Brooks.
  • The Business Record has named Monica Friedman as the 2022 Dentons Davis Brown Human Resources Professional of the Year. Friedman is executive vice president and chief human resources officer of Des Moines-based Life Care Services Corp., a senior living management company.
  • Gov. Kim Reynolds last week announced $26.6 million in grant funding to 23 projects across the state that will help businesses create more child care options for their employees. The funding will involve 67 employers and is expected to create more than 1,700 child care slots, according to a news release. The grant was born from the Child Care Task Force recommendations in an effort to incentivize business engagement in child care.
  • Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham last week introduced a bill to create a federal ban on abortions at 15 weeks. The effort is at odds with the views of many federally elected Republicans who have said the issue of abortion should be left to the states.
  • Nonbinary athletes will be able to run in next year's Boston Marathon without having to register as members of the men's or women's divisions, race organizers announced last week. "Discussions are ongoing with nonbinary athletes in an effort to further promote inclusion at all BAA events," the organization said, adding, "We view this first year as an opportunity to learn and grow together."
  • University of Iowa professor and researcher Beth Livingston has created a free online training program for employers to help employees identify warning signs of intimate partner violence. She partnered with Yves St. Laurent Beauty’s Abuse is Not Love initiative to build online training modules for employers to distribute to employees. Her research has found that workplaces are often one of the few places for victims to feel safe and that income can provide a sense of independence.
Worth checking out
Melinda French Gates on her foundation’s shocking findings that gender equality won’t happen for 100 years (Fortune). In cowboy country, a single mother tries to raise her boy to be a good man (Washington Post). The heartbreaking ingenuity of the mother-writer (LitHub). Parents are filming their Black daughters excitedly reacting to the "Little Mermaid" trailer (Buzzfeed News). A history lesson: The role women played 100+ years ago in redevelopment of Des Moines' riverfront (Business Record). Expanded safety net drives sharp drop in child poverty (New York Times). ‘What happened after I quit’ (The Cut). Why employers should hold off on celebrating higher labor force participation among women (Fortune).
FEARLESS FOCUS: Taking a leap
How risk-taking and failure can help women succeed

The most successful people have often failed – many times – before getting to where they are now. They take big risks, which requires taking a leap of faith even through fear. In this conversation, we’ll hear from women who have done just that. Girls and women are often taught, or put pressure on themselves, to be perfect and are less likely to shoot for a goal than boys and men if they don’t think they’re qualified. Through sharing both personal and business-related examples, our speakers will give advice on how to find success, how to learn from failure and how you can support yourself or women you know in their journeys of reaching toward their goals.

Panelists include:
  • Connie Wimer, chairman, Business Publications Corp.
  • Kirsten Anderson, author and advocate
  • Katie Hoff, team leader, Cyber Security Operations, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

Join us on Zoom Thursday, Oct. 6 from noon to 1 p.m.

Six takeaways from the first FemCity Des Moines Beyond Business Conference
We’ve all been to business industry conferences where schedules are packed-to-the-gills with sessions on strategies, innovations and words of wisdom.

The first-ever FemCity Des Moines Beyond Business Conference went, well, beyond that. The conference, which was geared toward women and gender-nonconforming business members and entrepreneurs, mostly focused on personal and professional growth strategies.

Session topics included personal brand photography, building resilience, using TikTok for your business, how your menstrual cycle can affect your work, how to write a book and having meaningful conversations.

Here are six of my takeaways from the conference.

Knowing yourself is key.

This is the queen takeaway of all takeaways. Every session touched on this in some way or another, whether it be knowing your body, knowing your value or knowing your ability to bounce back.

Alyx Coble-Frakes is the CEO of the Agenda Period, a planning system that helps people understand phases of their menstrual cycle and then use that information to inform their routines in and outside of work.

She said she wants people to use their periods as a tool for good in their lives. Knowing the phases of your cycle can help you determine what you put on your to-do list for the coming days.

For example, during your menstrual phase, you have higher levels of intuition, so this may be a good time to plan. Your follicular phase comes along with an increase in energy, so it may be beneficial to plan new projects or attend networking events throughout the phase. The ovulation phase is often when you feel most confident, so this is a great opportunity to conduct sales calls, ask for a raise or take risks. Lastly, the luteal phase is an ideal time to complete administrative tasks.

Knowing what you want is also important.

The following are questions that were posed to attendees throughout the conference:

  • What do you want your life to look like?
  • What are your dreams?
  • What are your priorities?
  • What’s in your zone of genius?
  • What does success mean to you?
  • What is your why?
This map can tell you when fall foliage is peaking in 2022
Raise your hand if fall is your favorite season! (My hand is raised).

This map that National Public Radio shared offers a guide to when the deciduous trees in the U.S. are expected to be at peak color. According to the map, Iowa is expected to see peak color around the end of October.

Consider this a handy tool if you’re thinking about planning any autumn road trips or hikes – I know I will be!

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